Rehoboam raises an array, purposing to reduce the ten tribes; but is prevented by Shemaiah the prophet, 2 Chronicles 11:1-4. He builds several cities of defense, and fortifies others, 2 Chronicles 11:5-12. The priests and Levites being turned out by Jeroboam, come to Rehoboam, 2 Chronicles 11:13, 2 Chronicles 11:14. Jeroboam's gross idolatry, 2 Chronicles 11:15. The pious of the land join with Judah, and strengthen the kingdom of Rehoboam, 2 Chronicles 11:16, 2 Chronicles 11:17. His wives, concubines, and numerous issue, 2 Chronicles 11:18-21. He places his own sons for governors in the different provinces, 2 Chronicles 11:22, 2 Chronicles 11:23.
And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he gathered of the house of Judah and Benjamin an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam.Gathered of the house of Judah - See this account 1 Kings 12:21-24 (note), and the notes there.
But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,
Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying,
Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of me. And they obeyed the words of the LORD, and returned from going against Jeroboam.
And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defence in Judah.And built cities for defense in Judah - He was obliged to strengthen his frontiers against the encroachments of the men of Israel; and Jeroboam did the same thing on his part to prevent the inroads of Judah. See 1 Kings 12:25.
He built even Bethlehem, and Etam, and Tekoa,
And Bethzur, and Shoco, and Adullam,
And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph,
And Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah,
And Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and in Benjamin fenced cities.
And he fortified the strong holds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine.Store of victual - In these places he laid up stores of provisions, not only to enable them to endure a siege; but also that they might be able, from their situation, to supply desolate places.
And in every several city he put shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side.
And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts.
For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the LORD:The Levites left their suburbs - They and the priests were expelled from their offices by Jeroboam, lest they should turn the hearts of the people to the true God, and then they would revolt to Judah, 1 Kings 12:26; and therefore he established a new worship, and made new gods.
And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made.And he ordained him priests - for the devils - שעירים seirim, the hairy ones; probably goats: for as the golden calves, or oxen, were in imitation of the Egyptian ox-god, Apis; so they no doubt paid Divine honors to the goat, which we know was an object of religious veneration in Egypt.
And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.Such as set their hearts to seek the Lord - All the truly pious joined him out of every tribe, and the whole tribe of Levi, being deprived of their functions, joined him also. Thus he had Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, and probably a part of Simeon; for he had Etam, which was in that tribe, and the truly religious out of all the other tribes, for they could not bear Jeroboam's idolatry.
So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon.For three years they walked in the way of David - During this time he prospered; but for fourteen years after this he and the people were unfaithful to the Lord, except at such intervals as the hand of God's judgments was upon them.
And Rehoboam took him Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David to wife, and Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse;Took him Mahalath - By marrying thus in the family of David, he strengthened his right to the Jewish throne.
Which bare him children; Jeush, and Shamariah, and Zaham.
And after her he took Maachah the daughter of Absalom; which bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith.Maachah the daughter of Absalom - See the note on 1 Kings 15:10. She is called Michaiah, the daughter of Uriel, 2 Chronicles 13:2. For this the Targum gives the following reason: "Abijah reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Michaiah, daughter of Uriel of Gibeatha. She is the same as Michah, the daughter of Absalom; but, because she was an upright woman, her name was changed into the more excellent name Michaiah, and her fathers name into that of Uriel of Gibeatha, that the name of Absalom might not be remembered.
And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and his concubines: (for he took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines; and begat twenty and eight sons, and threescore daughters.)Eighteen wives and threescore concubines - Bad enough, but not so abandoned as his father. Of these marriages and concubinage the issue was twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters; eighty-eight children in the whole, to the education of the whole of whom he could pay but little attention. Numerous families are often neglected; and children by different women, must be yet in a worse state.
And Rehoboam made Abijah the son of Maachah the chief, to be ruler among his brethren: for he thought to make him king.Made Abijah - the chief - Abijah certainly was not the first-born of Rehoboam; but as he loved Maachah more than any of his wives, so he preferred her son, probably through his mother's influence. In Deuteronomy 21:16, this sort of preference is forbidden; but Rehoboam had a sort of precedent in the preference shown by David to Solomon.
And he dealt wisely, and dispersed of all his children throughout all the countries of Judah and Benjamin, unto every fenced city: and he gave them victual in abundance. And he desired many wives.He dealt wisely - It was true policy to disperse his own sons through the different provinces who were not likely to form any league with Jeroboam against their father.
He desired many wives - He was much addicted to women; yet we do not find that he formed any heathenish alliances of this nature. And as no particulars are given, we do not know how far he indulged himself in this propensity. He probably strengthened his political connections by these means.